Cowper Street unit plan opposition surfaces at Albury Council forum

DEVELOPERS wanting to convert a former Catholic Church-owned aged care facility in central Albury are facing strong opposition from neighbouring residents.

Melbourne-based Niccolo Polo Pty Ltd lodged a development application with Albury Council earlier this year to convert 16 existing one-bedroom units into eight two-bedroom apartments at the Cowper Street address.

But a variation sought to council planning guidelines which state three visitor parking spaces must be provided when five to eight dwellings exist on a site has upset residents.

They include Geoff Romero, Nick McDonald and Paul Grover, who all spoke at a community forum ahead of council determination this month.

Mr Romero said Cowper Street couldn’t cope with the additional traffic if the development was approved and the proponents were only interested in profits and not existing residents.

“It does the city no favours,” he said.

“It was also built of double-brick and filled with concrete because climate change and energy efficiency had not entered the language of town planners at the time.”

Mr Grover said any concession on carparking would create a dangerous precedent for future developments in Albury.

“How would the council be able to argue against the same variations when requested at a future date?” he said.

The developers planning consultant for Peter Baker said Cowper Street could easily accommodate additional cars.

He said it was only at 24 per cent of capacity and would rise to 32 per cent if the development was ticked off by council.

“A carparking study which addresses the critical issue for on-street parking shows an abundance of carparking on the street,” he said.

“The visitor carparking issue wouldn’t have any significant impact on the street and amenity of the area.”

He said scaling back the proposal to four units was not viable.

A house had existed at the address up until the 1960s and following the death of its owner it was sold to a Catholic Church subsidiary, Southern Cross Homes, and converted to an aged care facility.

It was named after Monsignor Larkins from St Patrick’s parish.

On-site residential parking is being created with the demolition of a recreation building which contained a common room, laundry and kitchen used by former residents.

Balcony areas would also be created on level one units.

The aged care facility was shut several years ago with previous developer interest in rejuvenating the site proving futile.

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